Vanity is a Weakness | Alicia Bruzzone

Alfred did a bad bad thing.

Vanity is a Weakness

By Alicia Bruzzone

For The Taupe Toupee Award


“Alfred, it’s been six months. How are you feeling?” Doctor Crowe rested an elegant slender wrist on her notepad as she watched the middle-aged man fidget on her couch.
Alfred frowned as he reflected on the dung heap his life had become. “I’ve been miserable! That’s how I’ve been. Made the rest of my hair fall out from the stress, didn’t it? Wouldn’t even let me keep the toupee, it got sequestered as ‘evidence.’ ” He adjusted his bandana and sunk his hunched shoulders further into the couch. “I mean, they promised it would be discreet. No one would know I’d bought myself a hairpiece, nothing on the packaging or anything. The invisible ink showed up when the police squad scanned it with a UV light, and the postie managed, I don’t know why the section chiefs couldn’t think to do it.” He sat bolt upright with an indignant look on his face, the collar of his orange shirt pulling down at an odd angle. “I was set up, that’s what it was. Preying on the poor, self-conscience, bald man. They know vanity is a weakness, don’t you ever let them think you don’t know.”
Doctor Crowe wrote notes in her book with a delicate scrawl, assuring Alfred in a soothing voice that there was no need to become defensive. “I haven’t accused you of anything.”
Alfred took off his sweaty bandanna momentarily to scratch his stubbly scalp. “But they all are, aren’t they? Accusing me. It’s why I’m here. Boss got all hysterical over making the company look bad, having personal deliveries sent to the workplace. Only, I was never home to accept a delivery, now was I? Not my fault they called the coppers. You’d think it was a bomb, the way they went off. Ludicrous. Since when is is illegal to order a toupee!” Alfred jumped to his feet with a barrage of clanging as he stared down at Doctor Crowe.
For her part, she appeared unruffled, gesturing silently he needed to take a seat. “We both know why they keep sending you to me. The hair in that toupee was cut off the head of your boss’ daughter, and pieces off her body were received in subsequent days. That was why he reacted strongly. By the end of the week the entire one metre box was filled with human remains. All with your calling card signature in invisible ink on the side, Alfred. We both know you never ordered a toupee, and you certainly never intended to wear it as your own. You’ll find these sessions more beneficial when you stop believing in your own delusions.”
Alfred flustered under the glare of the prison psychologist, his face reddening. “I never knew it was hers! The website said real hair, I thought they went to hairdressers or something and picked up scraps. Hell, it could have been horse hair for all I knew.”
The room was deathly quite as Doctor Crowe leant forward, one finger resting on the panic button as she checked his handcuffs were still in place. “Alfred, it was a taupe toupee. Your hair is black.”